Buildings and environments can change work habits and the way people interact. This not-for-profit research Institute, dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics, needed a west coast home and wanted the layout of the building to encourage interaction, while addressing the Institute's ambitious sustainability goals. Designed to achieve LEED-Platinum certification and a net-zero energy footprint, the building is the first net-zero energy biological laboratory in the U.S., and quite possibly in the world. The project was completed in December 2013.
The design solution includes a separate wet laboratory wing and a dry lab / office wing surrounding a central courtyard. Locating the office spaces and dry computational laboratories in one wing, and wet laboratories in the other, reduced energy loads and optimized the mechanical systems. The centralized courtyard serves as the heart of the building, drawing researchers across and into the collaborative outdoor space. The project uses a modest palette of materials: high-performance glazing, high-strength concrete (with 30% fly ash), and Spanish cedar wood that will age naturally as opposed to needing chemical maintenance. Each was considered for its contribution to the enhancement of the building's performance, resulting in a building that is both functional and artful in its simplicity.
Architecturally, the building is a metaphor for a ship: the wood is reminiscent of a sailing vessel, but, more important, the building is self-sustaining and environmentally stable, powered by sun and water. The pragmatically driven design was shaped by the Institute's remarkable site. The building was oriented to maximize output from the rooftop solar arrays, 1,488 Sunpower E20/327 panels, predicted to exceed the building demand?and to take advantage of Pacific Ocean views.